Girl with Cerebral Palsy walks for the first time
The brain is a complex organ, a head injury can therefore have diverse and far reaching effects, whether the person is a young man with short term memory loss, or a mother of four in a persistent vegetative state.
Our team of brain and head injury solicitors act in all types of claims where someone has acquired a brain or head injury through someone else’s fault. This could be either from an event such a road traffic accident or workplace accident (personal injury), or as a result of negligent medical treatment (clinical negligence).
In medical negligence claims, the injury may be caused during the treatment to a completely different part of the body, or it may arise where there has been a failure to provide proper treatment in relation to a disorder or event directly affecting the brain such as a brain tumour or stroke.
Whatever happened, we need to be able to prove that the brain injury was caused, or materially contributed to, by the negligence. Particular care needs to be taken where there is an underlying problem to disentangle what elements are due to the negligence and what problems are as a result of the original condition.
Some cases involve a combination of both personal injury and clinical negligence such as where someone presents in A&E with an injury due to a road traffic accident but is then negligently treated.
Adult brain injury cases will usually require evidence from a neurologist on the cause of the injury, and very often from a neuroradiologist too. Reports from a neuropsychologist and psychiatrist are also commonly needed.
Once the question of liability has been established (ie that there has been a breach of duty which has caused the brain injury) then work on valuing the claim can begin. Where appropriate, we seek an interim payment of damages so that our client can start to get the care and the rehabilitation they need. We also consider the requirements of pre-action protocols and the personal injury rehabilitation code to help our client to maximise their recovery.
The first step in quantifying a brain injury case is to fully understand the impact of the injury on our client, both physically and emotionally. We look at our client’s ability to function in everyday life and what help will now be needed. We take account of the lifestyle which our client had previously and how this can be best restored. We look at what interests and activities our client used to engage in, and what will enable them to either pursue those interests again, or substitute new ones.
When we assess care needs, we consider the number and type of carers now required and how these can be best integrated into any existing family arrangements where appropriate. With more subtle brain injuries, we may consider whether a “buddy” system or “PA” is more appropriate. We consider the extent to which our client can live independently but with support and what role family will have going forward. We also take into account our client’s cultural and religious background and how this impacts on their new requirements.
As well as care needs, we also consider issues such as appropriate accommodation, IT needs, aids and equipment and therapeutic needs such as physiotherapy and speech and language therapy. Where there are particular behavioural difficulties, we look at what environment and care regime will best suit our client.
In all of this we are assisted by obtaining expert evidence on the various areas of loss from different experts who specialise in claims of this nature. These “quantum” experts are in turn supported by the medical expert evidence on condition and prognosis which we also obtain.
As well as quantifying the cost of providing for our client’s needs both now and in the future, we also assess any other losses such as loss of earnings claims. We look at what type of career or job progression our client would have had but for the negligence and we obtain evidence in support of this. We also evaluate with our experts any residual earnings capacity our client may have and what difference rehabilitation is likely to make to this to ensure that an appropriate sum is included for loss of earnings.
Above all, we consider our client as an individual and what it will take to meet their particular requirements so that they can live as fulfilling a life as possible, notwithstanding the challenges that their brain injury brings.
Where a brain injured person lacks capacity to manage their own affairs, then a Deputy will need to be appointed. We work closely with our colleagues in our Deputyship department to ensure the smooth running of all aspects of the claim.
Partner and Head of Department
"The team's excellent service covers the full range of claims, and is distinguished by particular expertise in cases relating to cancer, brain injuries, fatal accidents, private medicine and GP negligence."
Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession
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